World-Class Wines and Timeless Architectural Beauty in the Heart of Aquitaine
We rode a train to Bordeaux from Paris, as they are fast, frequent & cost effective, and because our plans were to avoid renting a car until we were ready to depart Bordeaux. This would simplify all aspects of our visit, as we did not need a parking place nor did we have to worry about driving directions!
Bordeaux, France Map
Train to Bordeaux
We took a train to Bordeaux from Paris, as they are fast, frequent & cost effective, and because our plans were to avoid renting a car until we were ready to depart Bordeaux. This would simplify all aspects of our visit, as we did not need a parking place nor did we have to worry about driving directions!
When we were ready to depart Bordeaux, we utilized Auto Europe which was located immediately adjacent to the Bordeaux train station. We've utilized them previously and have had good luck with their cars & service.
The video above is the property of Lonely Planet and it was included here because it provides a good overview of the city.
NOTE: Click image to launch video.
Gare de Bordeaux
Our arrival in Bordeaux from Paris was here in the Gare de Bordeaux St. Jean Station, and since we did not yet want to acquire the rental car, we took a taxi to the hotel. Turns out that all of the rental car companies have their offices just outside this train station, so we had to come back here to pickup the rental car later.
NOTE: Image # 2 is the property of PA via Wikimedia. All other images (unless otherwise noted) are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.
Adagio Bordeaux Gambetta Bordeaux
In Bordeaux we stayed at the Adagio Bordeaux Gambetta in the very heart of Bordeaux, it is a modern and very comfortable hotel. The hotel was air conditioned, which was great from our perspective, as the French heat wave was still going strong.
The hotel is located in the heart of Bordeaux, just 2 minutes' walk from Place Gambetta and Bordeaux's old town, close to the Mériadeck business district. Its 111 fully equipped apartments, ranging from 2-person studios to 2-room apartments for 4 people, make this 4-star holiday residence a comfortable place to stay for a vacation or business travel.
Le Pizzaiolo Bordeaux
We spent the afternoon and evening exploring Bordeaux, walking about to get some idea of the city and it's inhabitants - as none of us had ever been there.
We walked quite a bit of the city, and ate dinner at Le Pizzaiolo, across the plaza from the hotel, and had a very good dinner (and a great bottle of wine). The proximity of the restaurant to our hotel was the original inducement to eat dinner there, but we found that we had made a good choice.
Click here to view their Yelp page where you can find their address, menu, images and other information.
Arcachon, France Map
Arcachon Train Station (Gare d'Arcachon)
Our game plan called for us to travel to the Dune du Pilat area in order to visit the sand dunes. We discovered during our trip research, that it would be considerably simpler to take the train there from Bordeaux (75 kilometers requiring 1 hour 15 minutes). Doing so would allow us to delay renting a vehicle until later.
Arcachon is daily served by the TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine from Bordeaux and also by the TGV Atlantique from Paris on weekends. We rode here on the train from Bordeaux, and as the bus station is just outside the train station, we started our bus ride to the Dune du Pilat here as well.
The Arcachon Train Station is only a few blocks from the beach along the bay, straight down Rue Molière.
Arcachon Harbor Area
Arcachon is a very popular vacation village, sitting on the shore of the Arcachon Bay, with a beautiful beach, docks for recreational boats, a very nice village center with quite a bit of shopping, and the train station just two blocks from the water - it was a nice interlude while waiting for our train back to Bordeaux.
There is a pedestrian walkway along the Plage d’Arcachon (the main beach) which is tree shaded and is close to a number of small shops and eateries. The pedestrian walkway is only a few blocks from the city center and the main market, Marché d’Arcachon. Like many towns in the area, Arcachon has a fantastic covered market gathering plenty of food stands with local delicacies.
Dune du Pilat, France Map
Once our train from Bordeaux arrived at the Gare d'Arcachon, we then had to catch the Bus Baia Line 1 in the direction of Plage de la Salie, and get off at the Dune du Pilat stop, cost was 1€. The bus makes a few stops, but the overall ride was less than 25 minutes.
The Dune du Pilat area is just amazing, you just do not expect to find a massive sand dune on the Atlantic coast of France like this! We suggest that you click the Wikipedia link below and read more about this place.
From our "prior to the trip research", we had already planned a trip via train ride to Arcachon and then via bus to the dune itself. Trains depart Bordeaux every 30 minutes, and it is about an hour ride to Arcachon.
From Arcachon we hopped on a local bus for the ride to Dune du Pilat. The bus stop for the dune is immediately adjacent to the station staircase, to the left of the circle in front of the station.
These pictures should give you just a slight idea of the height of the dune, you can see the Atlantic Ocean way below where we were sitting!
Climbing up the Sand Dune
Climbing the dune is quite steep, but they had a wooden staircase to make it easier, built into the side facing away from the Atlantic Ocean. We took the steps up but enjoyed going back down the dune with long sliding strides. The stairs are comprised of 154 steps, with several small platforms to allow people to pass slower climbers. From what we've read, the sand covers the stairs in the winter season, so the community removes the stairs until the next year.
Off in the distance is the Atlantic Ocean, and you get a good idea of how large this pile of sand is when you see how high above the ocean we are.
We had read about this being the largest/tallest sand dune in Europe, and on any Google Map, you can see just how large it is. The dune has a volume of about 60,000,000 m³, measuring around 500 meters wide from east to west and 2.7 km in length from north to south. Its height is currently 110 metres above sea level.
Looking to the north of where we were on the top of the dune, somewhere off in the distance is the village of Arcachon. To the left is the Bay of Biscay, with the Atlantic Ocean further off to the west.
The Arcachon bus costs only one Euro (per person) for each trip to & from Dune du Pilat, so
we decided to head back to Arcachon, and explore the village before our train departed for
Click here to view a Google Images set for the Dune du Pilat.
Suggested links for Bordeaux
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